Despite having a full roster of 60 women, the Fernie women’s soccer team doesn’t have anyone to play with.
Teams from all around the Elk Valley area and beyond have been on the decline over the last few years, according to team coach Gino Elia.
“We used to have a game and a practice a week, but now we’re limited to just tournaments,” said Elia.
The lack of sign-ups has disbanded rival teams from Pincher Creek, Sparwood and the Crowsnest Pass, leaving our local team, the Fernie Flash, exclusively playing at tournaments.
Elia credits the sparse registration to busier lifestyles and an increasing number of alternative summer activities that people opt to participate in over soccer.
“We have the mountains, we have biking, the river, the trails … People also have families and can’t always get a sitter,” explained Elia.
According to Elia, following a burst of sign ups in May, registration tends to taper off during the summer months, leaving only 15-20 core players on the team.
But the lack of field time hasn’t diminished the team’s spirit or skills, as the Flash continue to place well at all their tournaments.
“We would play bigger teams from actual leagues out in Calgary,” said player Kari Olson, “and we would play so well that they would ask us, ‘What league are you from?’ and we would always say, ‘We’re a league of our own’.”
Most recently, the team made it to the semi-finals at the Julyfest Soccer Tournament in Kimberley over the July 19-20 weekend. They lost to Hillcrest, a team out of Calgary, in a 3-0 game.
But Elia looks forward to the rest of the tournament season, which will see the Flash playing at the Whitefish Summer Games in Montana. The tournament takes place from September 5-7.
“We’re all about having fun and playing the game,” said Elia optimistically. “We encourage women of any skill level to come out. We have players who are beginners all the way to experts. For us, it’s just about getting out there.”
The Fernie women’s soccer team welcomes players 19 and over to register for their team.